Beating a Dead Horse, Eloquently: Crowfall VIP

Let me start by saying that Crowfall generating revenue is completely aligned with my goal of having a great game to play perpetually. There’s no logistical reason of which I am aware that ArtCraft can’t continue to build on the assets they have created with successive Unity versions, and provide an evolving title over a decade or longer. I’m happy to invest in this effort.

tldr;

The passive training improvements are a step in the right direction, but a few changes are required to make the existing system a positive experience for all customers.

The issue identified by members of the community is that with the existing design, it is likely that new players will need to log in frequently on a specific schedule as they train the early parts of skill trees. This can be as short as ~4 hours, which encourages unhealthy behavior.

Ideas

  1. In the current design, non-VIPs effectively have no queue and VIPs have up to a 3 pip queue. These values could be changed slightly. A 1 pip queue for non-VIPs and a 6 pip queue for VIPs would be compelling value.
  2. Provide 1 month of VIP to all customers. The ancillary benefit here is that it’s a great upsell for VIP.
  3. Balance the time invested per pip for early nodes in trees with short nodes, and ensure that none are less than 12 hours.
  4. Remove any cost for switching between nodes and ensure that at all times some node is available with at least a 12 hour pip.

Good Feels and Entitlement

A lot of the debate in the community has been around whether people should feel entitled to maximizing passive training. This is an easy question from a business perspective. As a company, you want the customer’s experience with you to be positive. You want them to walk away feeling fulfilled, whether or not their entitlement is justified.

The feeling of logging in to find out you ‘wasted’ time that could have been invested into training is an objectively bad feeling, no matter how casual of a player you are. That means the system design will drive behavior. Is the behavior we want to encourage:

  • “Don’t sleep, ignore your responsibilities”, or…
  • “If you can’t afford to support the game monthly, can you check in once per day to help us maintain a community and give us the opportunity to up-sell you”?

The Crowfall team has done a really great job so far of making most people feel good about their decisions. Whether you want to play a gatherer, a crafter, scout, rogue, combat class, or something else, you can have fun in the game and contribute a lot. It’s a great feeling to have too many viable options, and more are on the horizon. This value should be carried forward into a genuine empathy for customers, and decisions which maximize revenue in the short term at the expense of customer morale and loyalty should be avoided.

Good Guy Brand

The most successful companies are the ones that create a product no one else can or will (check), has a revenue accretive way to acquire customers (check), and consistently makes good decisions for all stakeholders. This last point is what culture and brand are all about. The Crowfall team has done a great job in this regard so far, with impeccable customer support and a clear design goal of player enjoyment (except holding F to gather resources).

In the current situation, you’re a good guy brand if you encourage healthy behavior in your customers, which means not requiring anyone to log on more frequently than ~12 hours from when they logged off.

Brainstorming Additional Value for VIP

I think we’re nearly unanimous about wanting as many people as possible paying for VIP, and all alt accounts to require VIP.

Without a rule stating as much, the system needs to be designed to encourage VIP without making it an entirely uncomfortable experience for newcomers and casuals.

Some of the ideas that were discussed in the community were:

  1. A yearly ration of bonus queue pips for extended vacations could be included in VIP, and queue pips could be purchased in the cash shop individually or in bundles.
  2. Login queue priority (assuming that the maximum server capacity will be low for some time, I expect this will be a big deal. alt accounts are much less useful on the dregs if you can’t login to the same server easily)
  3. An additional primary skill (only one allowed per: combat, crafting, exploration)
  4. Auto-F key so that you can gather with proximity not key press (seriously, this mechanic has no value and only hurts. If you need to hurt someone, hurt the character, not the player. Give a short debuff while/after gathering)

But I’m sure there will be other great ideas that come up. Please do comment with any ideas you might have!